Saint Patrick . . . and his Very Special Day

StPatricksDayHappy

Well, here we are again. At that most wonderful, awesome, sacred and spiritual time of the year.

JUST KIDDING!!!

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, come Tuesday, and time to have a little fun. It’s time for the wearing of the green, shamrocks, “Kiss me—I’m Irish” buttons, friendly pinches, and drinking way, way too much green beer. Gaudy, and noise-filled parades, and all sorts of other wonderful and wacky modes of celebratin—right along with those most chosen people of God—the Irish.

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And the nice thing is that it doesn’t matter in the slightest what your family history or DNA is. On this one day of the year—everyone is Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of St, Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration occurring annually on the 17th of March, the death date of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385-461).

Saint Patrick, the patron-saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick, the patron-saint of Ireland.

It was made an official Christian feast day in the seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, especially the Church of Ireland, as well as quite a few of the others.

It is a day to celebrate the introduction of Christianity into pagan Ireland, but has also evolved into a general celebration of the entire Irish culture, tradition, and heritage.

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In few places is it more cherished than in American, the adopted home of heaven only knows how many millions of immigrants of Irish decent.

Lep

It was the Irish—along with the Chinese laborers, of course—that largely built America and made it run. Perish the thought that Getty, Rockefeller, Murdoch, or the other veddy, veddy English robber-barons of the nineteenth century should have gotten their own hands dirty in the building of their financial empires.

Someone needed to dig the ditches, drive the cattle, blast-out the mines, lay the tracks, and built the skyscrapers—and the Irish were only too willing to lend a hand.

st. Patrick's

Without them—well—America simply wouldn’t have become America. And St. Patrick’s day simply wouldn’t be the fun that it is today. And we thank them for it—on the Feast of St. Patrick’s . . . and his very special day.

May the luck of the Irish be with you—on this day—and always.

Irish_clover

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

the rains fall soft upon your fields of gold,

and—until we meet again—

May Almighty God hold you safely in the palm of His hand.

foamy

Dumb (Irish) joke of the day:

Question:  How can you tell the Irish guy at the Hospital?

Answer:  He’s the one blowing the foam off his bedpan.

Religion . . . A Rant (although a quiet one)

 

Religion (2)

Once again this Sunday, I attended the Tucson American Evangelical Lutheran Church on Tucson Blvd, and Broadway. And once again it was a spiritual experience.

Having lived in Bellevue, Washington (home to corporate giants Microsoft and Boeing) since 2006, I had kind of forgotten what a real town is like. Real, as in good old-fashioned working-class and blue-collar real. Like they say down in Texas—“All hat, no cattle.” Well, Tucson is kind of mostly cattle, and very little hat.

The folks in Church come dressed for comfort. There, one is likely to encounter parishioners in various styles of dress—all the way from simple tee-shirts and tennis shoes, to white shirts, ties and jackets—(although very few of them). Even the Pastor confesses to forgetting his stiff collar insert most of the time when the weather heats up in the summer.

Gaudy and show-off dress may be in short supply, but good old-fashioned praise the Lord spirituality isn’t. The songs are sang with gusto—piano booming and tambourine shaking.

I love it. It harkens back to my own beginnings—growing up in a Presbyterian Church descended from Scottish and Irish roots and traditions.

The plain and simple and down-to-earth lifestyle of Tucson was further reinforced on my drive home, when I encountered a cowboy riding his horse on the sidewalk near the intersection of Golf Links and Kolb. Yeah, I know this post is supposed to be about religion—but the rodeo is coming to town, and believe me—that is religion to an awful lot of folks around these parts.

The Pastor of the American Lutheran Church here in town—The Rev. Kim R. Taylor, is no dummy—holding a Master of Divinity Degree. But he also isn’t a stuffed shirt. Forswearing completely the traditional sermon preached safely from behind a pulpit, Pastor Taylor strolls among his flock, speaking as much with them, as to them—as he dispenses his well thought out message for the week—calling them by their first names, and encouraging a response. The highest point of the entire interaction, it seems, is when he is able to produce in the crowd a good spontaneous, and hearty laugh.

The congregation does not fall asleep.

A good minister—one that knows how to deliver a message, with humor and humility–and a congregation that loves its leader—is a wonderful thing to see.

I encourage anyone in the area of this very special little Church to drop by and give it a look—and Pastor Taylor a listen. You might just want to stay awhile.

You might just want to stay for a lifetime.

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I kind of got my nightie in a knot a few days ago. I was reading a news story on Yahoo news on my computer—the one about a crazed Palestinian that drove his vehicle into a crowd of Jews on a crowded Jerusalem street—seriously injuring five. His actions were immediately praised by Hamas, the political party currently in charge in Palestine.

Yahoo News stories are always followed by a “comments” section. Sometimes the most interesting parts of the story come out of this section. I probably read the comments about half the time. They never fail to be a font of both information, amusement, and fodder for a lot of these blog articles.

One particular post by a gentleman proved this to be the case once again this week.

An atheist of long standing, he stated his opinion that most, if not all, of the world’s problems came from the very existence of religion. The violence displayed by members of all of the world’s religions came, he postulated, from the dark and small minds that could even begin to imagine the actual existence of a God. He said that such people were stupid, backward, red-necked and idiotic—much like the folks that actually believed in the existence of another well-know (at least according to him) myth—Sasquatch (or Bigfoot).

Do away with religion, and stupid people, he said—and we would be well on our way to realizing the utopian society that we richly deserve—but which has long eluded us.

Well, of course I couldn’t resist replying.

My answer went something like this:

Dear Sir: “How can you mean to say that Sasquatch doesn’t exist? That’s just plain crazy. I might be willing to accept a world without God—but Sasquatch? Never!!!” signed, a simple-minded and stupid reader.

In another words, I kind of felt that Bigfoot needed to be defended. Certainly God does not. I hope the recipient of my comment got the point—but I kind of seriously doubt it.

God exists—whether we believe in him or not. Simple as that.

The fact that we haven’t blown the planet to smithereens since the age of nuclear power kind of proves it. Stop and think about it. Just about every single good and worthwhile thing that exists on the globe today came about because of good old-fashioned Christian charity and compassion.

The world was a pretty dark, bleak, empty and scary place before the Son of God came along a couple of thousand years ago. What he brought into the world was, along with salvation and redemption—compassion. The compassion of a God, who for a time, inhabited a body of one of his vast creation. A God whose feet trod the dusty roads of mortality. A God that felt what we feel, experienced what we experience, bled—and for a time, cried—right along with us.

He know us. He loves us—and most of all—he has compassion on us. And this compassion was given to us, a gift to be liberally spread around, and re-gifted at every opportunity.

It is all that has stood between us and the void for a very long time.
Demographics

 

God’s compassion isn’t limited to Christians either. Good and honorable men and women of all faiths—Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, or follower of the venerable Confucius—are all heir to this incredible gift. We see its works in all corners of the globe.
Prayer

 

Yeah, we see the other too. The modern-day Orcs and Death-eaters. But these are not men of God—they are followers of something else entirely.

But that’s for another time.

The writer of that Yahoo comment further stated that modern science has eliminated the possibility of the existence of God. Science—according to this gentleman—was the new God. There was no room, according to this luminary—for anything else.

Well, maybe not so fast.

You see, I kind of consider myself to be perhaps, just a little-bit smarter than the average bear. I consider myself to have somewhat of a “scientific” mind. I actually understand (at least in principal) the equations of Einstein. I have followed the work of both the classical physicists and those of more modern times—the quantum physicists.

I doubted the existence of God myself—back when I was young and foolish. I turned to a study of science to prove to others (and myself) that there simply wasn’t any room anywhere in the universe for God. That everything has a solid and objective substance, form and existence—independent of individual observation. All of the big questions had been decided, and worked out.

Science was in—God was out.

Trouble was—in the study of science, I found, just as many had before me—God himself. There he was—not in the vastness of space, but before our very eyes—in the world of the very, very small.

Big things are made of little things. And then even smaller things yet. Rocks, birds, cows and dining room chairs—right along with everything else—are made of molecules. Molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of sub-atomic particles. Sub-atomic particles are made of . . .

Well, what exactly are they made of? Electrons, neutrons, quarks, etc. What are they made of? Here’s where it gets interesting—and more than just a little bit dicey. They don’t seem to be made of anything at all—at least as far as our much-vaulted science can tell.

It seems that the nearest science can come to describing what the smallest of the smallest bits of everything is made of, is to call it “information.” Basically the very same numerical information that makes up the all too real looking television programs and computer games that we all love to watch and play.

We are—all of us—and everything else that exists in the entire Universe—basically nothing more than numbers and pure thought. We may, just like those computer images and very real looking computerized special effects, be nothing more than images, or thoughts, programed by an entity somewhere far away—perhaps in another dimension.

We may—all of us—and everything that is—exist as basically just a thought in the mind of God.

Think about it this week. Think about it good and hard. And then, I humbly suggest—get thee to a Church on Sunday.

I know a good one at Tucson Blvd, and Broadway—and others all over town as well.

You might like it.

It might just be the smartest thing you’ve ever done.

 

That’s my rant for the week. Thanks for reading. See you all again next week.

Until then—goodnight.

 

Dumb Church joke of the day:

Who was the greatest financier in the Bible? Noah–he was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

 

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Anguished English . . . and a good laugh (Thanks–I needed that)

 

AE

 

The past couple of weeks of my life have been, well–different–to say the very least. Full of pain, grief and sorrow.  Lots of tears–little laughter. There hasn’t been a whole lot to lighten the mood.

Anyone who has ever been charged with the responsibility of closing out a deceased person’s worldly affairs, along with sorting through their most personal belongings–will surely understand.

The emotions range from wanting to cry, to wanting to scream, and/or just wanting to get back into the bed in the morning and pull the covers up over the head, and stay that way all day.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done–thank you very much big brother. And I mean that too. Because after all is said and done–it is an honor. Dale selected me for the task. And that was because he trusted me, loved me, and probably wanted me to grow in the experience.

And I have.

Even at the ripe old age of sixty-five, I feel I’ve become just a little bit more of a grown-up in the last two weeks.

What I haven’t had much of lately is a darned good laugh.

Well, that changed today. With the discovery of one of Dale’s favorite old books. A 1987 Dell paperback called Anguished English, by Richard Lederer. Dale had read me passages from it many times in the past–and it never failed to produce a few good chuckles and lighten the mood.

It did the same today.

Dr. Richard Lederer (born May 26, 1938) is the author of more than forty books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series. His works range from bloopers and puns to word origins and word games to pets, and American history.

Raised in West Philadelphia, and a Harvard man to boot, Dr. Lederer is a world-renowned author, teacher, and speaker on the subject of puns, oxymorons, and anagrams.

He is what he himself calls a “Verbivore,” a word he coined himself. His works include such titles as: “Get thee to a Punnery” (1988) “Crazy English”  (1989) “The Word Circus” (1998) “A Man of my Words” (2003).

 

Richard Lederer
Richard Lederer

 

I’d like to share a few of the wonderful examples of “Anguished English” that Dr. Lederer provides in his book. In doing so, I am aware that I might perhaps skirt the edge of the “fair use doctrine,” and therefore provide a link at the end of this article for readers to purchase “Anguished English,” if they wish. I highly recommend it.

Excerpted from the book (in italics) . . .

During the early years of space exploration, NASA scientist Wernher von Braun gave many speeches on the wonders and promises of rocketry and space flight. After one of his talks, von Braun found himself clinking cocktail glasses with an adoring woman from the audience.

“Dr. Von Braun,” the woman gushed, “I just loved your speech, and I found it of absolutely infinitesimal value!”

“Well then,” von Braun gulped, “I guess I’ll have to publish it posthumously.”

“Oh yes!” the woman came right back. “And the sooner the better!”

It helps to know the meaning of words–especially if you are going to converse with one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century.

One of the most hilarious sections of the book deals with unintentionally funny signs. As I sat on the floor, in front of the bookcase, in the very room where my brother passed away just a couple of weeks ago, instead of being morose and bereft—I roared in laughter.

It was a welcomed change. Thanks brother, for keeping that book all these years. It was, like you—there when I needed it.

At a restaurant-service station: Eat here and get gas. (Don’t even think of trying the tacos)

At a Santa Fe gas station: We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container. (And don’t throw stones either)

In a Michigan restaurant: The early bird gets the worm! Special shoppers’ luncheon before 11AM. (Would you like fries with that?)

On a delicatessen wall: Our best is none too good. (But we are known for our honesty)

On the wall of a Baltimore estate: Trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.—Sisters of Mercy. (Can’t wait to meet the Mother Superior)

On a long established New Mexico dry cleaning store: Thirty-eight years on the same spot. (And we’ll stay with it for as long as it takes)

In a Los Angeles dance hall: Good clean dancing every night but Sunday. (There may be a movie in this somewhere)

In a Florida maternity ward: No children allowed. (Now that may actually be a good idea)

In a New York drugstore: We dispense with accuracy. (I know I’ve been to this store before—and somehow survived)

In the offices of a loan company: Ask about our plans for owning your home. (Talk about truth in lending)

In a New York convalescent home: For the sick and tired of the Episcopal Church. (And honestly—who isn’t?)

On a Maine shop: Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship. (Bringing meaning back to “Made in America”)

At a surprising number of military bases: Restricted to unauthorized personnel. (Remember: Military Intelligence is an oxymoron)

On a display of “I love you only” Valentine cards: Now Available in multi-packs. (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)

In a funeral parlor: Ask about out layaway plans. (Does that come with the “flip-top” box?)

In a clothing store: Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks. (It’s gonna be a little crowded in that collar)

In a Tacoma, Washington, men’s clothing store: 15 men’s wool suits–$10.00—They won’t last an hour! (Sometimes there is just no substitute for quality)

On an Indiana shopping mall marquee: Archery tournament. Ears pierced. (That’s going to leave a mark)

On an Ohio highway: Drive slower when wet. (always slows me down)

And last, but certainly not least—my personal favorite: In the window of an Oregon general store: Why go elsewhere to be cheated, when you can come here? (I know I’ve shopped here before)

You get the idea. It’s a wild and wacky world out there—full of loveable and bumbling shop and store, and other business owners—and well signed to prove it.

Dr. Lederer’s book is crammed with wonderful examples of the misuse of the English language.

Some headlines:

Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing. (It’s a miracle)

Defendant’s speech ends in long sentence. (Would somebody please just shoot him?)

Asbestos suit pressed. (Neatness counts)

Doctor testifies in horse suit. (Very snazzy)

Complaints about NBA referees growing ugly. (Hey—it’s a natural process)

Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers. (Police brutality run rampant)

Tuna biting off Washington Coast. (I’m guessing it has something to do with global warming)

Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan. (It’s time those dead people got organized)

Two convicts evade noose: Jury hung. (Just try rounding up another twelve)

Man held over giant brush fire. (That’s what you get for being an arsonist)

Traffic dead rise slowly. (Zombie apocalypse?)

South Florida aliens cut in half by new law. (That’ll fix ‘em for sure)
Give it a read if you would like to smile for awhile.

Or maybe—just when you need a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

It might be just what the Doctor ordered.

 

Thanks for reading. See you all again in a few days with something new.

Until then . . . Goodnight.

 

Dumb joke of the day: What’s the difference between Roast Beef and Pea Soup? Well . . . anyone can roast beef.

 
RL

 

 

Books by Dr. Richard Lederer